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Fall 2013 - 63775 - PA391 - Public Financial Management

Instructor(s): Jack, Paul
Unique Number: 63775
Day & Time: Th 6:00 pm -9:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.122
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Final Exam Information:December 13, 2013 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm SRH 3.122
Course Overview

This course provides a basic understanding of the financial activities of governments at all levels in the United States. It is usually taken during the first year. The course acquaints students with the purposes, characteristics, processes, and operations of financial management systems and develops their capabilities to analyze financial operations, coordinate such operations with relevant public policies and programs, and effectively manage the financial resources of public entities. Topics in the course include: the economic, political, and administrative environment of financial management systems and operations; budgeting theory and practice--including program and performance budgets; accounting and internal control; financial reporting; auditing--financial and performance; debt management; treasury and cash management; and revenue/tax administration.

Section Description

This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of public financial management primarily at the state and local level.  The objective of the course is for students to develop an: understanding of public sector financial resources; ability to analyze financial data and reports; and to interpret/connect this information in the context of public policy and management decisions. The course format will be a combination of lectures, discussions and group presentations.

The course will cover the principles of finance, budgeting, and accounting as they are needed in the practical application of financial policy and management decisions.  Specifically the course will address: 1) Budgets - purpose, process and uses; 2) Financial Reporting - balance sheets, income statements, and financial condition analysis; 3) Financial Resources - taxes and non-tax sources of revenues; 4) Debt and Investment Management - tools, applications, and risk evaluations.

Readings: There is no single assigned textbook for this class. Several of the readings mentioned on this syllabus provide an adequate coverage of the topics included in this course and I will be happy to suggest one suited for your needs if you wish to purchase a textbook. The relevant chapters from the recommended books and the journal articles are listed with full citations in the class schedule on the day they are to be discussed. Electronic copies of the readings, power point slides, class handouts, discussion items, problem sets, group assignments and sample exams are available on UT Blackboard. The reading list and topics may be supplemented or revised during the semester as found appropriate for the class. Supplemental material will be announced during class prior to being assigned.

Course Requirements & Grading: Students are expected to attend all classes. The class format will consist of lecture, group discussion, and guest lecturers.

The course grade will be based on the following items: class participation, problem sets, mid-term exam, Problem Sets, Exams, and the Group Project will be handed out and due as indicated in the The following is a brief description of each graded course component:

  • Class Participation: Class participation will be based upon student contribution and interaction during class. At the start of each class we will discuss public finance concepts as revealed in current events. Each student will be asked, on a day to be scheduled on the first class day, to present a current events article that raises a public finance question, issue, or policy challenge.  This requirement will be discussed in more detail on the first class day.
  • Problem Sets: Problem sets will be designed to simulate practical applications of course material.  Each problem set will have two parts.  The first part will be a series of 3 to 6 quantitative problems. The second part will be a one page summary memo intended to interpret the quantitative analysis of the first part within the context as presented in the problem set.  The primary purpose of the memo is to evaluate understanding and the ability to analyze and communicate course concepts.  There will be three problem sets throughout the semester as indicated in the course schedule.
  • Mid-term Exam: The mid-term exam will be held in class during the first half of class.  The exam will consist of a combination of short answer, multiple choice, and true/false questions.
  • Group Project: The class will be broken into approximately 5 groups.  Each group will choose a governmental entity (State, City, County, School District, University, etc.) with a population base of 100,000 or greater and prepare a credit rating analysis and report.  A formal written rating report will be turned in on the last class day, along with a group presentation of the analysis and findings.  Presentations will be 30 to 40 minutes long.
  • Final Exam: The final exam will be given as scheduled during the final exam period.  The exam will be comprehensive and will consist of questions similar in form to the mid-term exam.

Late assignments and make-up exams will be allowed only at the discretion of the instructor and in accordance with university procedures.